Donor’s Generosity Helps Lahey Clinicians Bring Their Skills to 32 Countries
Thomas Colatosti is a Somerville native and son of Italian immigrants who modeled hard work and generosity. A Vietnam veteran who attended college on the GI Bill, he is now President and CEO of Oasis Systems in Lexington, which provides technology services to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. He also founded a venture capital firm that invests in companies in the homeland security and biometric industries.
Guided by a strong Christian faith and sense of patriotism nurtured by his military service, Colatosti believes success brings an obligation to help others. “Your faith is not just about your own spirituality and the Church, but about helping those in need,” he said, explaining the motivation behind his substantial gift to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Global Outreach Program this year.
“Lahey helps me, my family and my neighbors, and they do global work,” Colatosti said. “They serve the local community and the underprivileged around the world. There’s a synergy between my faith and the work Lahey does.”
A global community of care
Established in 1993, the Global Outreach Program underwrites travel expenses so that Lahey clinicians and other staff can participate in humanitarian missions around the globe. Thanks to this financial support, Lahey teams have been able to care for people in 32 countries, including Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, and Kenya, and in Syrian refugee camps in Turkey. They have also provided medical services where needed in the United States, including rural communities, Native American reservations and areas struck by natural disaster.
The missions not only benefit people in dire need of care, but also give Lahey staff an opportunity to share their expertise with local doctors and nurses, set up new programs and grow professionally. The Lahey staff’s dedication to community service — in metro Boston and abroad — is in sync with Colatosti’s mission to do good and help others.
Doctors’ example is inspiring
Over the years, Colatosti developed close relationships with two key figures in the Global Outreach Program. His cardiologist, David T. Martin, MD, codirects the program, and his primary care physician, Thomas M. Bilodeau, MD, has gone on several medical missions — including to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
“In the course of my exams, I’d ask, ‘What are you doing this summer?’ And [my doctors] would say they’re going off to Bolivia or Ecuador or Kenya to do humanitarian work,” Colatosti said. “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good thing to support the global initiative they’re doing at Lahey?’”
Dr. Martin noted that gifts like Colatosti’s benefit Lahey clinicians and patients alike. “We learn from our colleagues in the developing world how to provide care when resources are limited, and these trips build resilience in the staff,” he said. “And patients get fired up when they know their own doctor is helping in this way. They understand that it is good for the entire Lahey organization that we do this important work.”
Connected through the generations
Colatosti’s association with Lahey began long ago, when both his parents were patients at the original Lahey Clinic in Kenmore Square and his father was seen by Dr. Lahey himself. In 1974, Colatosti became a Lahey patient and his wife, sons, and late brother have all been cared for by Lahey physicians.
In addition to supporting the Global Outreach Program, his gifts have benefited the new Joseph C. Corkery, MD, Emergency Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. His support was inspired by a personal experience in the old Emergency Department, where he recently sought treatment for a swollen elbow. He took note of the crowded environment, feeling empathy for people in distress seeking help for their injuries and ailments. When he learned of plans to improve and expand the facility, he wanted to help.
“Now the new ED is spectacular,” he said. Thanks to generous donors like Colatosti, the new 45,000-square-foot facility is four times the size of the previous Emergency Department, which opened in 1980. A Level II trauma center, it can care for 50,000 patients a year.
“Lahey Clinic has probably grown by ten times or more since my first visit there, yet my experience has been the same over all those years,” Colatosti said. “At Lahey, you’re never a number. They’ve kept Dr. Lahey’s personal approach from when he founded his clinic. Lahey still has a wonderful culture that’s very approachable and personal. That makes all the difference in the world.”